- By Rose Kennedy For the AJC
At first read of the Airbnb procedural checklist, it's all straightforward− you start with extra room at your dwelling, be it a townhome, rancher, treehouse or castle. Then, create your listing, welcome guests and wait to get paid.
Testimonials like the one from The Guardian columnist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet, who attended an Airbnb Open in Paris with more than 6,000 successful hosts, add further appeal. According to Cosslet, Airbnb gave those in attendance the "economic freedom to pursue their dreams, or allowed them to make many friends and travel the world”.
Simple, profitable, emotionally enriching − Airbnb hosting can be the answer to your need for extra earnings and the ultimate side hustle, but only if you're a good fit as a host. You need to be comfortable with other people touching your stuff and sharing your OJ, sure, and also good at random things like empathy, tax records and quick callbacks.
What do you want out of Airbnb financially?
There are three types of host out there, according to Learn Airbnb's "Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Airbnb Hosting," "those that want to make a few extra bucks with their available space, those who want a stable secondary source of income, and those who want to build a serious Airbnb business that will eventually become their main source of income."
Don't confuse the earnings of the full-time host with the efforts you'd be able to make as a very part-time host. "The more income potential you desire, the more planning, capital, work, and risk you're going to be taking on," noted the blog.
Is your market in line with your income requirements?
Learn Airbnb also warned that some markets still don't have enough demand to support hosting, and you should make sure yours isn't one of them. "On the flip side, you should also find out whether you're in a super hot Airbnb market. Otherwise, you might be happy with making $2000 a month when you should be making twice that." To figure out which scenario you're in, get a market report from a trusted data provider like AirDNA. "What you want to be able to achieve will dictate the location, size, and nature of your listings as well as the tools and strategies you will be using."
Are you a first, or at least quick, responder?
Whether you're in the listing stage or guests are nestled in upstairs already, the most successful Airbnb hosts have a recognizable sense of urgency in their business dealings, according to Airbnb "Super Host" Mikey Rox on the Wise Bread website.
"I respond to my inquiries within minutes usually — thanks to the micro-subletting services' mobile apps — and I never let them go for more than a few hours." he noted. "Not responding promptly to inquiries gives the potential guest time to browse other listings, and I don't want that. My response time is largely what keeps us booked consistently throughout the year."
Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, himself a host in San Francisco, told Cosslet how important it is to be "super responsive." "One of my things is to check in with guests the day before they arrive and make sure they have all the information they need," he said. "As soon as they've arrived, I ask if everything's okay. If anything does go wrong – something's out of place, you've run out of toilet paper – they have a chance to let you know before it bothers them."
Do you have the energy for amenities? Lots of extras aren't crucial for the every-once-in-a-while host in a slow market. But to succeed in a faster-paced environment or build a stable bloc of guests who will also refer, you need to be up on amenities, according to Rox, who was able to buy a second property with her and her husband's Airbnb earnings.
"Another reason we receive more bookings than a lot of listings in our area is because we offer great amenities," he noted. "In the private guest bedroom, there's a mini fridge, flat screen TV with HD cable, DVD player, iron and ironing board, and lots of books and maps of the city. Our guests also have full use of our home while they're here, whether it's cooking their meals, hopping on the computer to print tickets or vouchers, playing our video game system or board games, washing and drying clothes, or borrowing a book or DVD."
It's also important, Rox added, to provide such amenities in the price of the stay.
"Our guests get a lot of bang for their buck, and these amenities are our way of giving that extra value."
Are you able to stick up for yourself? There will be times when you have to say, "Enough is enough," a woman who has hosted her swanky Brooklyn apartment on Airbnb for three years wrote in a blog post that was picked up by The Points Guy. First, though, she described an overwhelmingly positive experience, where "the people who stayed with me acted like guests.
They didn't expect me to do their dishes, nor did they come home at 4:00am drunk and throw up on my couch. Many even brought gifts like chocolate or wine from their home countries, which added a fun, cultural component to the experience."
But she also advised potential hosts to anticipate a situation where you might have to tell someone to leave. Her breaking point came with a guy who made inappropriate passes, but other times you might need to assert yourself could include anything from breaking rules about the kitchen to violating quiet hours to bringing a pet when they're not allowed.
Do you have that "stick to it" type of personality?
You may not catch on right away. There might be bad weather or air strikes or some other factor that limits your success at the beginning. Or you may be wildly successful, week after week. In either case, you'll need mad sustaining skills to continue to host Airbnb over the long haul. Wisebread blogger Rox noted. Just a few of the things you can't let slide include updating the calendar online and offline, keeping any amenities you've listed in ample supply and preparing literally constantly for the taxes you must pay as an Airbnb host.
Are you open to criticism?
To succeed and keep succeeding, you have to be able to hear things you might rather not listen to, like that your paint colors are off, or a guest was certainly not expecting your toddler to be screaming while they were sleeping in. But asking for constructive criticism and putting the feedback into play is what keeps an Airbnb venture in business over time.
Ultimately, even if your earning potential is astronomical, it's your emotional side that's going to determine whether you and your guests will enjoy the Airbnb experience. As successful host Teshale Wolde from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia summed it up for The Guardian:
"Your heart should be welcoming. You should like meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures. People may not have the same attitude and knowledge as you, and may be of a different religion, so your heart should be open, too."